The Central Election Commission (CEC) said three hours later that with about 80 percent of ballots cast counted, Pashinian’s Civil Contract party had 55.3 percent of the vote. Its main opposition challenger, the Hayastan (Armenia) alliance led by former President Robert Kocharian, came in a distant second with 20.3 percent.
Another opposition force, the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), was falling short of a 5 percent threshold to get seats in the country’s new parliament, according to the CEC.
The official results put former President Serzh Sarkisian’s opposition Pativ Unem bloc in third place with 5.2 percent. But under Armenian law, party alliances need to poll at least 7 percent of the vote in order to be represented in the National Assembly.
The 21 other parties and blocs running in the elections fared much worse.
Pashinian arrived at the Civil Contract headquarters in Yerevan after midnight to declare his party’s victory in the polls.
“We can conclude that the people of Armenia have given Civil Contract and me a mandate to lead the country,” he said in a speech delivered there.
Pashinian described his victory as a “steel revolution” that will allow him to resort to tougher methods of governance and establish a “dictatorship of the law” in the country.
Meanwhile, Hayastan refused to concede defeat, saying that the partial vote results “do not inspire trust.”
“They sharply contradict various manifestations of public life which we have witnessed in the last eight months, the results of all opinion polls … and common sense,” the opposition bloc said in a statement.
It said that Sunday’s voting was marred by hundreds of fraud reports that “testify to a coordinated and pre-planned falsification of the election results.” Hayastan will thoroughly examine the “recorded and presumed irregularities,” it said.
“As long as all contentious issues have not been fully explained and suspicions have not been dispelled the Hayastan alliance will not recognize the election results,” added the statement.